By Chamberlain Zulauf
Grace Robinson is a challenge to the status quo. She’s a self-labeled “Jesus person” but loves to go to El Jefe’s and play drinking games during Monopoly as most college students do.
Grace will be doing all the “church things” after graduation, challenging the status quo along the way.
One, that women and queer people can be in leadership positions in the church and two, that you don’t need to be “a goody two shoes person to be a part of the church. I cuss and drink like a sailor. I make mistakes all the Goddamn time but some of my biggest role models have taught me that and taught me that we are called as we are and as we are able not as our perfect Sunday best dressed person.”
Currently, she is completing her major in Christian studies with a minor in psychology and a concentration in parish youth leadership. Originally, Grace is from Harrisburg, NC but now lives in Concord- “a technicality, it’s all outside Charlotte”.
Chance and a bit of God’s natural beauty is what brought her to Roanoke,
“I was actually completely settled on another school when I was looking at colleges because if you want to study religion and you come from the denomination that I’m associated with (Lutherans), you go to a school called Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, NC. I was fully set on LR, I was like ‘yep that’s where I’m supposed to go’. Woo! Go Bears,” said Grace.
“I actually toured LR a second time a week before I toured Roanoke to solidify that that is where I was going but when me and my mom came up to Salem the night before our tour, we ate at Mac & Bobs as you do- love the food. The next morning, she made us get there early so it was like 7:30 in the morning and we came to the patio that’s attached to Colket which overlooks the athletic fields. We looked at where we were in the valley and the sun was rising and I literally had no words. I was speechless and I just looked at my mom and she looked at me and she knew that I immediately fell in love with this school
I came back a month later and set up one meeting with a professor. I ended up meeting my entire department. I met with the Chaplain, I had lunch with students, I met so many people and it just felt like home, so I then switched to Roanoke even though I did get into Lenoir-Rhyne and most of my friends went there,” said Grace.
Now, in her senior year she has surely made a unique experience for herself here. In fact, she is the only and the last Christian studies major at Roanoke College before it’s integrated into religious studies.
“So, religion… so much to talk about. I do all the Jesus Lutheran things; my big area of interest is young adult ministry and reconciliation work with the LGBTQ community.
There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to repair and or reconcile those relationships because ultimately the gospel says to love everybody- that’s what’s at the core of it. It’s basically my entire thesis. With my degree we have to do basically a master level dissertation and mine is tentatively titled Emerging Adults’ Relationship with the Church: Intersections of Moral Development, Social Justice and Practical Theology– basically asking why young adults are leaving the church, what conversations do they want to be having and how can organized religion apply to their lives,” said Grace.
Roanoke has been a great place for her to continue her service,
“I wanted to get that network started and Roanoke has helped me a lot with that. I was offered internships with national level organizations; I have done a lot of work regionally with college Lutherans. I was the southeast region 9 coordinator for Lutheran student movement- like, I literally do all the Jesus Lutheran stuff. Roanoke has done a good job in challenging my beliefs and my foundation but in a way that has helped me grow and make them stronger or change them when necessary,” said Grace.
Aside from her involvement with on campus ministry Grace also has three on campus jobs, is a campus ministry fellow for Chaplain Chris, works in admissions, and is a student assistant for three different counselors. Also, readers might have seen Tik Toks featuring the Religion and Philosophy departments: Graces work. Additionally, she is the treasurer for RC Lutherans as well as SGA; there are also the honors societies like Psi Chi, ODK and Theta Kappa Alpha.
“I don’t sleep, it’s fine,” said Grace, “My big thing is I like to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Whenever I need to get away from campus, whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed or anything like that, I just go out there and pick an overlook. I sit, sometimes I’ll do homework and I just kind of do a little mental reset.”
As treasurer her advice is to “not spend money you don’t have”. Simple enough!
Though, what Grace always says to incoming freshmen is to “Say yes! Say yes to things you didn’t think you would say yes to. You’ll surprise yourself. I never thought I would be in student government much less be elected to a position. It all started because somebody asked me to do something.
“Roanoke has really taught me to be a lot more confident in myself and in my knowledge. I’m an introvert, I hate talking to people but Roanoke has taught me to challenge the status quo. If I don’t think something is right, I’m going to say something about it and be like ‘bruh’.
When it comes to things, especially in the church or with student government, if something isn’t working the way I think it should I’ll work on it and point it out but also offer what to do in substitute. I think criticism without a plan on how to fix it is just noise,” said Grace.
Grace’s favorite college memory is one I’m very jealous of,
“Me and my friends got together over Easter weekend last year and we had a lock-in at the Chapel and then we did a sunrise service on the roof of Cregger, so I got to go to the roof of Cregger at sunrise Easter morning and Chap. Chris was playing his trumpet purposefully towards the Tarp house at like 7 AM. Me and my friends got to just have a ball on the roof of Cregger. Dean Rambo is the one who helped us get up there through my SGA connections.”
This Christmas Grace will be driving up to Ohio to celebrate the holiday as well as her grandpa’s 91st birthday. The trip will have singing and traditional Ukrainian food shared with around 35 family members
After graduation Grace wants to become a Deacon. Studies for that will take her to Wartburg Theological Seminary school in Dubuque Iowa- “So… corn.” The program is three years, one of which being an internship with potential to take her anywhere in the country. Her goals are to work with young adults, making safe affirming spaces for and reconciling work with the LGBTQ and BIPOC communities.